I loved everything about Tolu’s piece – the concept and association of home. And her poetry, her short exploration of home – a video in which a variety of people share what home means to them – is full of taste memories and is only 3: 39 minutes.
Thank you, Tolu for your beautiful contribution, for reminding me, us that homes are built – with love, comfort, care.
….or home is where the plantain is.
The best type of plantain for dodo is ripe to almost over-ripe. It’s a fine yellow with streaks of black that gives just a little to the touch but not so black that the skin sticks to the plantain or that the colour of the plantain has started to change.
The scale of ripe to under-ripe tips based on how much sugar my system needs and salt is a must to encourage the sweetness in the same way as cakes call for a pinch of salt.
Diagonal cuts are my go-to….
…but I think diced dodo is better with riper plantain and works well for fried rice.
Roasted groundnuts and very ripe plantain are also yummy …
… as is fried plantain with fried yam where the softness of the dodo compliments the crispy of the yam. I generally can’t deal when people cut the whole stick in four so it’s bulky. That’s a non-Nigerian thing though, as is the practice in the diaspora of giving three fingers as a side which I find insulting every time. Don’t tease me.
Dodo is a dish I can eat everyday and lately I’ve realised it’s one of my mood lifters when I’m down. I remember having a bad, long day a few months back and getting home to be surprised by some iyan and efo.
I was grateful for it, but the day was so bad I decided to save that pleasure for the next day and make dodo instead. I chose my favourite knife, cut the plantain, watched the oil bubble as the fingers dropped in and let my days wahala melt as I watched the yellow transform into a golden brown.
Wahala: perhaps of Hausa origin  Adulterated or pidgin English. Perhaps Of Niger-Delta (South-South Nigeria) origin. Perhaps of Arab origin (wahala, meaning a terrible mess) transmuted into Hausa, before dispersal into the Nigerian pidgin lexicon; Source – Wiktionary
By the time the food was ready, there was a joy and a letting go in inhaling half the plate before the whole thing was done and then settling to eat the rest. That night no accompaniments were necessary. I understand now that on days when dodo is therapy, the ritual of the making is as important as the food itself.
I was creating a mini documentary on ‘What home tastes like’ (watch it here) and I started the reel with what has become a personal quote. As someone who travels a lot to places where I know nobody, ‘If there’s plantain, I can make it home’.
Tolu Agbelusi is a Nigerian British poet, playwright, educator and lawyer. Visit her website for more information.